Saturday, December 30, 2017

A HAPPY, SAFE, GRATEFUL, AND SANE NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL

At this moment (9:00pm) 36 years ago, I was on my first night in rehab in the midst of one hellacious blizzard, sitting through my first mandatory AA meeting. I had already decided that a horrible mistake had been made and that as soon as I felt better, I was going to get on a plane, leave Minneapolis, and fly back to Maine. As it happened, it took me a month to feel better, and during that time I went through basic training on How To Be A Human. Between my friends and a whole bunch of strangers in NA, my HP, a couple of sponsors, and thousands upon thousands of meetings, I'm pleased to say, I'm still on the ride and the only mistake made December 30th, 1981 was made by me.

The NA groups (and quite a few AAs) will be putting on our annual New Year's Eve bash in the Bass Room (not bathroom) in Franklin Memorial Hospital, West Farmington, Maine beginning 6:00 pm tomorrow night. Pot luck, great munchies, games, music, and a whole bunch of men, women, and kids celebrating another day clean. We'd be glad to see you, but if you can't make it, have a safe, grateful, and happy new year.

The picture is of the former St. Mary's Rehab, now Fairview Rehab. The flower pot in the middle of the stairs was added many years after I went there. When I stood on that sidewalk in the snow and wind thirty-six years ago, the cab driver rolled down his window, and asked me, "Think it'll do you any good?"

"These people have an impossible task," I answered, "trying to convince me that there is a good reason for being in this world alive and sober at the same time."

Mission Accomplished. What was the reason? How'd they do it? Read the damned book! (That's Saint Mary Blue)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

LONELY AND ALONE FOR THE HOLIDAYS

It has been said that the ultimate reasons for using drugs are the same ultimate reasons for getting clean through Narcotics Anonymous. The shallow reasons for using drugs everyone knows: To lessen pain, to shut down the think machine, to fit it with the other druggies, to be rebellious. The ultimate reasons for using drugs are to achieve happiness, fulfillment, and a meaningful life.

Eventually, as using addicts learn, drugs let the user down in both these areas, the shallow and the ultimate. The high gets low, the think machine climbs into a pit of depression and can think of nothing else, and eventually no one can stand being around the user, and finally one finds out that instead of being a rebel, the user has become a member of one of the oldest and most restrictive and oppressive establishments on earth.

In a good recovery program, such as any of the Twelve Step variety, such as NA or AA, the newcomer learns how to stop using, then learns how become a human being. Pain is lessened and often removed altogether. The user learns how to choose thoughts and attitudes, confront and overcome obstacles and challenges, and every meeting comes with a set of new and old friends.

Happiness comes from being happy. Being happy comes from no longer horriblizing one's life. Learning how to do that is why recovering addicts go to meetings, listen at meetings, get sponsors, use the sponsors they get, read the program literature, and work the Twelve Steps of Recovery. Fulfillment and a meaningful life are the results of the work the recovering addict does through the program.

Finding yourself alone and isolated as the holidays approach? An addict inside his or
"Isolation" by Aidansane
her own head in isolation is behind enemy lines. If you are in recovery and alone and isolated, that is a choice. There are friends in the program you can call, meet, have coffee, go shopping, or go to a movie together. Most important is sharing how you feel, getting it out in the open, doubling the good feelings and cutting the bad ones in half. Misery is optional.

This applies to the using addicts, as well. If you are in the shit up to your eyeballs, don't know which way to turn, the pain, rage, and depression have chased everyone out of your life, find a Twelve Step meeting of NA or AA. Links for the world directories are in the "To Learn More" section  at the top right-hand side of the page.

Happiness is a choice. My warmest wishes to each of you for happy Holidays, and a Merry Christmas.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

THE BAH, HUMBUGS!

"'Tis the season to be jolly . . ." is all the recovering addict in seasonal misery mode needs to hear to amp up the gloom and renew gathering new resentments and add a coat or two of new polish on old resentments.

Many persons, not just addicts, have a hard time during holidays. Many suffered abuse during childhood, and when those "perfect" little family dramas come up on TV or in the movie theaters it is enough to cause those who grew up in really sick homes to chew pig iron and spit out bullets. The sarcasm and biting comments abound.

"Bah! Humbug!" as Ebenezer Scrooge used to say. Every thing from decorations to wrapping paper and ribbons seems to underscore the loneliness and pain of holidays as well as mock all the imperfections of one's own existence. Sooner or later, for recovering addicts, a feeling emerges that is the next to final step before slipping back into the nightmare. It is a sneaky little thought that, in whatever words are used, comes down to: "Why stay clean? What's the point?" The choices then are very few, as real as a wildfire, and twice as deadly.

~~~ A Christmas Eve Tale ~~~

Once upon a time, in a land quite close actually, there was an addict new in recovery who was feeling bad about the holidays and actually broke down and called his sponsor about it. His sponsor told him the Story of the two Santas. "There is the bad Santa who dumps the kale juice and tofu on the floor, takes a leak on the Christmas tree, and leaves horribly wrapped presents beneath the tree for everyone that no one wants, and without return slips. He turns the heat up, leaves the lights on, then Bad Santa gets back in his moldy black sleigh, whips the dragons pulling his sleigh, and curses them onto the next home.

"Then there is the good Santa who eats the cookies, drinks the milk left for him, and leaves a thank you note for the refreshments. He then places the beautifully wrapped presents for which everyone is grateful beneath the tree, sprinkles a bit of magic dust on the tree bringing peace and joy to everyone in the family. He then zips up onto the roof, climbs into his red and gold sled with the gleaming silver runners, calls to his reindeer, and they draw on the magic sleigh pulling it up into the night sky to go onto the next home."

"Gee, Sponsor," said the addict new in recovery. "Do you know which Santa will come to my house?"

"The Santa you feed, Pidge. Who will come to your house is the Santa you feed."

It matters not what your religion is, nor even if you have a religion. Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, etc., etc., this is a season in which the world gives itself permission to be jolly, to be generous and kind to our fellow humans, and wish peace and good will to all. It is all up to you and your attitude. Which Santa will you feed?

AGAIN . . . and again, again, again . . .

Slips are not slips. This was one of the first things pointed out to me in early recovery. The term "slip" is a way of minimizing...